Saturday, February 6, 2016

Limbo bar now at $1.45


Wednesday, I reported that the limbo bar dropped to $1.55.
I drove past the corner station in my old neighborhood yesterday, and saw it was selling regular for $1.58.  That made me expect that it was undercutting the two stations down the street by a penny.  When I approached them, I saw that their posted price for regular was $1.55.  That was enough to get me to stop and top off Pearl; the car may not have needed gas for another two weeks, but by then regular could be selling for $1.79 or higher.  I'd rather save the money now.
I also thought that the price might be the low for the year, but acknowledged that I could be wrong.
While I have my doubts that the price will be this low when I next need to fill up my car, the price is actually on the high side of where the stations could be and the trend is currently heading down.  GasBuddy lists the Detroit average as $1.53.  These stations could undercut the average by as much as a dime.  If so, that would make gas as cheap as it was during the depths of the Great Recession, back in late 2008 and early 2009.
I was.  On Thursday, I drove past those same stations and saw they were selling regular for $1.48.  Yesterday, I checked GasBuddy and it listed their price as $1.45.  Gas now is as cheap as it was seven years ago.

As for whether the price could go down more, the answer is still yes.  Nearby stations are selling regular for as low as $1.41 cash (the stations in the old neighborhood sell gas at the same price for both cash and credit).  Also, the Detroit average is now $1.52 and still falling.  There is pressure on the stations in my old neighborhood to match the competition and be a dime lower than the metro Detroit average.

Also, Oil-Price.Net reported that yesterday's close for RBI was $0.99, down a penny from Tuesday's close.  Oil may be up slightly with WTI at $30.89 and Brent at $34.06, but it's RBI that matters for the short-term price of gasoline.  As I wrote last time, "Gas might just continue dropping if that's the wholesale price on the spot market."

As for how low gas might go, I think the bottom is $1.39.  There's not much lower gas can go and not much time left before the seasonal gas price rise begins.  I expect that should begin after Valentine's Day.

Stay tuned for another Examiner.com article and the Sunday entertainment entry.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Examiner.com article on Michigan debates

Donald Trump, seen here while boycotting the last Fox News debate, has promised to attend the next Fox News debate in Detroit, Michigan.
Getty Images.
Republicans and Democrats announce dates for Michigan debates
This week, Michigan found out that it will be the host of both party's presidential debates in advance of the state's presidential primary on March 8, 2016.  The Republican candidates will debate in Detroit on March 3, while the Democrats will be in Flint on March 6.

In a statement released Thursday, February 4, Fox News Channel revealed Detroit as the location of the already scheduled Republican presidential debate.  Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace will return as moderators for the third Republican debate of this election cycle on Fox News, which will last two hours and begins at 9 P.M. Eastern Time.

The Fox News press release followed in the heels of one from the Democratic National Committee.  The Democrats' press release, posted Wednesday, February 3, included Flint as the location of three debates added to the schedule in addition to the already scheduled two remaining debates on February 11 to be broadcast by PBS News Hour and March 9 to be shown by Univision as well as last night's debate on MSNBC, which was also added this week.
Details and quotes, including Donald Trump's promise to attend this debate after boycotting the previous one, at the link.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The smart money and endorsements are more for Rubio than ever


In December, I noted that the smart money is moving from Rubio to Cruz but the endorsements aren't.  The betting lines at PredictWise showed that people were bidding up Cruz's chances while bidding down Rubio's.  Meanwhile, Rubio racked up seven endorsements during December to Cruz's one.  Based on Cruz's win and Rubio's third place showing in Iowa, one would think that the bettors would say "we made a good bet, double down."  Nope.  It turns out I skipped a step, as my comment at PM Carpenter's blog shows.
PredictWise, which had been predicting that Rubio was the most likely nominee until a couple of weeks ago, is now even more firmly betting (literally, so pun fully intended) on a Rubio victory. Rubio was last the favorite at 33% chance to win when Trump passed him. Yesterday, Trump peaked at 52% before falling to 26%. Rubio jumped from 33% to 55% overnight.
That was two days ago.  This morning, Rubio's odds are now at 60%, while Trump has fallen to 21%, Cruz has held steady at 14% (his odds had dipped briefly to 4% before the caucus, so confident were some bettors that Trump was on his way to winning the nomination), and Jeb! is at 4%.  Rubio comes in third and his chances go up, while Cruz wins and his chances fall?  Nate Silver has an answer in Why Iowa Changed Rubio’s And Trump’s Nomination Odds So Much.
Presidential nominations are a lot like the stock market. In the long run, they’re reasonably well governed by the fundamentals. In the short run, they can be crazy. Iowa represented the equivalent of a stock market correction, a sign that sanity might prevail after all.

In the stock market, the fundamentals consist of things like the profitability and growth of a company. In the nomination process, the most important fundamentals are what we call electability (can the candidate win in November?) and ideological fit (does the candidate hold positions in line with the consensus of her party?). A party would prefer to nominate a candidate who scores well in both categories.

Rubio fits the bill, perhaps uniquely among the remaining Republican candidates. His image with general election voters is not great, but it’s better than the other leading Republicans. He’s also quite conservative. That’s convenient, because Republican voters are quite conservative also. In fact, Rubio is almost exactly as conservative as the average GOP primary voter.
Nate agrees with Rubio's movement up, but he thinks that the market overcorrected on Cruz.
That doesn’t mean the betting markets have things exactly right; I think they’re too low on Cruz, for instance.
Just the same, this is very much a "Party Decides" argument Nate is making.  Follow over the jump for how that is playing out with endorsements.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The limbo bar drops to $1.55


I opened Limbo Kitty dances to $1.65 gas with two predictions.
Yesterday, the two stations down the street from the corner in my old neighborhood were selling regular for $1.65.  That's eight cents lower than the last time I checked, when the same stations were selling regular for $1.73.

Will it go lower?  At those stations, probably, as Gas Buddy lists the Detroit average as even lower at $1.62, although it is rising from $1.59 a couple of days ago.  So the second question becomes, "will I see that lower price?"  Probably not, so this might be Limbo Kitty's last dance until fall.
The answer to both questions ended up being yes.  I drove past the corner station in my old neighborhood yesterday, and saw it was selling regular for $1.58.  That made me expect that it was undercutting the two stations down the street by a penny.  When I approached them, I saw that their posted price for regular was $1.55.  That was enough to get me to stop and top off Pearl; the car may not have needed gas for another two weeks, but by then regular could be selling for $1.79 or higher.  I'd rather save the money now.

While I have my doubts that the price will be this low when I next need to fill up my car, the price is actually on the high side of where the stations could be and the trend is currently heading down.  GasBuddy lists the Detroit average as $1.53.  These stations could undercut the average by as much as a dime.  If so, that would make gas as cheap as it was during the depths of the Great Recession, back in late 2008 and early 2009.

Oil-Price.Net shows that oil is still cheaper now than it was back then with WTI closing yesterday at $29.88, again below $30, and Brent settling at $32.72.  The site also is also reporting RBI at $1.00, down 8.21% from the day before.  Gas might just continue dropping if that's the wholesale price on the spot market.

That might not last for long, as Reuters reported this morning that Oil gains after Russia says open to talking with OPEC.
Oil rose on Wednesday, paring earlier losses after Russia reiterated its openness to talking with OPEC about output cuts, which helped revive hope among investors that the world's largest producers could act to boost prices.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said if there is consensus among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members to meet, "then we will meet".

This helped push the price of oil, which had been set for a third day of declines after data on Tuesday showed another big build in U.S. inventories, off the day's lows.
In the great game of Chicken being played by the oil-producing countries, Russia just flinched.  It wants to steer away from a crash with Saudi Arabia, which has pushed its gas pedal to the floor and is showing no signs of wavering.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Woodchucks (handlers) predict the weather for Groundhog Day


Happy Groundhog Day!  It's time to see what predictions for the coming weeks' weather the animal oracles made this morning.  First, NBC News reports Punxsutawney Phil Says An Early Spring Is On The Way.

Weather forecasting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow, indicating there won’t be six more weeks of winter.
Nice, but I'd like a second opinion.  Fortunately, the New York Times has one: On Groundhog Day, Staten Island Chuck Predicts an Early Spring.
Charles G. Hogg, Staten Island’s weather-forecasting groundhog, predicted an early spring on Tuesday at the borough’s zoo, making his bold prognostication amid the excitement of a crowd of onlookers — and the notable absence of one public official.
That's good news.  Even better was what didn't happen.
He did not bite anyone this year, as he did in 2009 when he nibbled at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Nor were there any drops, like the groundhog’s fall from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s hands — and subsequent death — in 2014 that prompted allegations of a cover-up orchestrated by city officials.

Instead Mr. de Blasio, who would normally lead the ceremony, was in Iowa after volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In his place was Kathy Hochul, the lieutenant governor of New York, who embraced her turn in the spotlight.
As one can read, Chuck does not have the best luck with Mayors of New York.  It's a good thing for him that Mayor DeBlasio was at the Iowa Caucuses instead.*

I hope that they're right, but I fear I might be disappointed as I was in 2013, when both predicted an early spring, but we got six more weeks of winter instead.

Both Phil and Chuck are on the east coast.  What about here in Michigan?  The Associated Press via the Detroit Free Press reports From Howell, Woody predicts more winter coming.  The east coast might have an early spring, but we're not likely to.  At least if Woody's right, I won't be able to say "I told you so" as I did in 2013.

Speaking of animal predictions, Woody also predicted that the Broncos would prevail over the Panthers in the Super Bowl.  I have more confidence in animal auguries over that event than their ability to forecast the weather.

*Stay tuned for my comments on the Iowa Caucuses, as I had promised last night.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Marching music for the Iowa Caucuses: Colts and Hawkeyes


I'll have more to say about the Iowa Caucus results later.  Right now, I'm just going to play some music.  First, 2013 Colts from Dubuque, Iowa, playing "Field of Dreams," an appropriate choice for tonight's festivities.


If the candidates build it, will the voters come?

Next, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at this year's Rose Parade.

The University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band performing at the at the 127th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on Friday, January 1st 2016.
If the voters come, will they march into the caucus sites?

Stay tuned for the answers tomorrow, along with the answer to the question of Groundhog Day, will the woodchuck see his shadow?

Theme for February 2016: PASSION


Find Your Passion with February's BlogHer Writing Lab
So what is the BlogHer Writing Lab theme this month?

PASSION

February is dominated by Valentine's Day. If you're not in a relationship, it can be a difficult holiday to swallow, and even if you are in a relationship, it may be a day that brings more stress than its worth. Or, hey, maybe you love Valentine's Day and can't wait to tackle that box of truffles.

In any case, when I talk about passion, I'm talking about the ideas that get under your skin. What lights your fire? What makes you excited? What do you feel so strongly about that you would dedicate hours of your time or go out of your way to do?

If there isn't an answer on the tip of your tongue, there hopefully will be after you tackle the writing prompts this month.

Moreover, I'm giving double points to anyone who helps another Writing Lab member fulfill their passion this month. I want to hear those stories of bloggers helping bloggers, whether it's getting started learning a computer language, passing along recipes that inject new passion into a meal, or helping someone else fulfill their acting dream.

The Writing Lab will also be lighting a little flame underneath you and pushing you to complete a query challenge by the end of the month. If you're not already in the Facebook group head over there before that publication challenge begins.

The February BlogHer Writing Lab theme -- PASSION -- runs from February 1 until February 29. You can blog daily for a month, blog daily for a week, blog on random days throughout the month -- it's really up to you. There is no blogroll you need to join: just enter and exit the project based on your needs.
...
The BlogHer Writing Lab is what you make of it. At its core, it's about getting you writing. It's about helping you get your words ready once you've taken the time to write. And it's about helping you grow your space and take next steps.

So join the February BlogHer Writing Lab, and let's find your passion.
I don't have to find my passions.  I already have--writing about science, technology, environment, politics, education, and entertainment, especially if the subject of that entertainment speaks to one or more of my other passions.  Stay tuned for more on these topics, along with four fun holidays this month, Groundhog Day, Lunar New Year, Fat Tuesday, and Valentines Day, plus a bonus--Leap Year Day.  I love holidays!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Diversity not a problem at the SAG Awards


Two weeks ago, I groused about Hollywood's diversity issues for MLK Day.  In particular, I singled out Idris Elba's lack of nominations.
Elba being left out was particularly surprising, as he was nominated for a Golden Globe (he lost to Sylvester Stallone), a BAFTA Award, and three SAG Awards (two for his film perfomance and one for a TV role).  The actors and foreign press were certainly behind him, even if the rest of the voters were not.
Last night, Elba got some of the recognition he was denied at the Oscars by winning two of the three SAG Awards for which he was nominated, Performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Beasts of No Nation" and Performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries for "Luther."  He had earlier won a Critics' Choice Award for the latter role, keeping "Fargo" from completely sweeping the miniseries awards at that ceremony.

TNT posted two videos of Elba accepting his awards.  The first was for "Beasts of No Nation."


The second was for "Luther."


Congratulations, Mr. Elba!

He wasn't alone in making the SAG Awards winners a diverse group.  Follow over the jump for more on how diversity reigned on the television side of the awards.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Plymouth-Canton H.S. marching band at the Rose Parade


I promised that I'd post a video of the Plymouth-Canton (PCEP) marching band at the Rose Parade in Michigan marching bands parade in a new year.  The original time frame was "a couple of weeks."  It's now been more than four, so I'm going to (almost) close out the month the way I opened it, with marching bands parading down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.  Playing the theme from "Back to the Future," here's Plymouth-Canton HS Marching Band at the 2016 Pasadena Rose Parade.

From Canton, Michigan
Plymough-Canton High School Marching Band performing their musical selection at the at the 127th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on Friday, January 1st 2016. This band's last rose parade was 43 years ago, in 1973!
The Plymouth-Canton Educational Park is the home of 3 comprehensive high schools - Salem, Canton and Plymouth with an overall student population of over 6500 in grades 9-12. It is the 3rd largest school district in the state of Michigan and the only high school with three schools that feed into each other.
Now, here they are with the rest of the musical performers in Music213's Marching Bands of the 2016 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

Recap of the 20 marching bands that performed in the 127th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.
Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry to conclude January.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Challenger disaster remembered 30 years later


Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.  The History Channel looks back in Remembering the Challenger Disaster.

On January 28, 1986, the tenth mission of the space shuttle Challenger ended in tragic disaster. We remember the seven astronauts who lost their lives that day, including Christa McAuliffe, who was chosen by NASA to pioneer its Teacher in Space program.
NASA commemmorated the event, as The Telegraph showed in Astronauts mark Challenger disaster anniversary.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station lead a moment's silence with Nasa to mark 30 years since the Challenger space shuttle exploded upon launch, killing seven.
I mentioned one of my memories of the event in Twentieth anniversary of Northridge earthquake.
When I woke up, Regis and Cathy Lee were not on, as I expected, but news coverage.  I recognized immediately  that this was a bad thing.  The last time I saw news instead of the mid-morning show was when the Challenger exploded.
That was a shocker.  I had overslept and was upset with myself for missing the launch.  Instead, I got to see it over and over again.  The next time anything like that happened after the Northridge Earthquake was when 9-11 happened.  I slept through that, too, but got to see the events over and over again as well.  I still have to tell that story.  Here's to remembering to do so on the 15th anniversary of that disaster this September.